So you made it out of the door. That first foray was pretty gruelling, but you came back for more, and each time it got a bit less horrendous. So okay, it feels like running might be something that’s worth pursuing. It doesn’t really cost anything, and you don’t have to be a member or show anybody your qualifications. It’s getting a bit easier every time, and you’re feeling fairly psyched about doing it. So can it be part of your life?
Well, if ‘your life’ is just me myself and I, then yes. When you’re schedule is your own, you can choose what goes into it – to a greater or lesser extent – and so you get to choose running.
But how about it if there are other people involved? I have four children: one little boy still not quite at school yet, one on the way to his teens, and a couple of girls somewhere in between. I have a husband with a busy job, a mum in her late seventies who needs love, time and to be a part of our family life, plus a host of responsibilities in my community. And in the middle of that, I try and get some writing done.
It would be easy not to find the time. And that’s not glib or disparaging – I don’t know many women in their 30s, 40s or 50s who have a whole lot of space for the stuff that we perceive as extra, or leisure, or ‘me’ time. So how did I check off a run three or four times every week for the last year?
#1 My husband is on board. He sees the massive difference it has made to my health and well being, my sense of accomplishment, my energy levels, and my joy in the day to day. So he does his utmost to facilitate it in lots of ways (like making an effort to be home early from work sometimes; by cheerfully taking full charge of kids’ bedtime so I can dash out for an hour; by always, always, always encouraging me and never accepting my vague excuses when I’m not 100% in the zone).
#2 By being determined. Having a schedule (even though it will need to be flexible) and sticking it to whenever you can means that the runs get done. If you run with friends or a club, the extra motivation of knowing you don’t want to break a date can help to firm things up (in your own mind and in your family’s!).
#3 By being prepared. If I’m scheduled to run and I’m not sure when it’s going to happen during the day, I put on my running gear first thing in the morning and stay in at all day if necessary until that run gets done – I can cope with odd glances at the Co-Op, and looking super-keen on the school run, if it means I gets my 3 miles.
#4 By seizing opportunities. If a run window opens, sprint through it! You don’t know when the next one’s coming. (see #3!)
Support is vital, and whilst you may be running alone, it’s a team effort. Sit down and talk about it with the people who love you, and help them to help you work a out a plan. And make it happen.
PS: It’s not just me – or you! I wrote this entry a couple of weeks ago as part of the series on how to start and keep running, but only posted it today. In the meantime I read another blog by a running mum who’d just nailed it in a hard run, when she’d needed that extra push from her partner to get her out of the door. It reminded me of this draft post, and it was good thinking of her and all the other runners like us, blessed with families who love them too much to let them stay at home!